How I made sure I met health and safety requirements

Overview

Kitting out a shop doesn't just mean working with an interior designer to make it look great - it means ensuring you've met all the right health and safety requirements, or you could risk a hefty fine from your local council.

The challenge

When we first took on our shop, we completely gutted it and redesigned the interior. We wanted to make it a real experience for our customers, but we knew we had to take certain health and safety precautions which might effect the interior design.

But it's not just about spending a few thousand pounds making it look great - there were certain elements we needed to get right to make sure we catered for customers' and our staff's safety.  

We wanted to use our basement, so the challenge for us was to make sure it was suitable - and safe - for customer use, as well as making sure it was accessible to wheelchair users, without compromising the look and feel of the shop.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 added to the challenge - it makes employees' 'health, safety and welfare at work' our legal responsibility - so we had to make sure we got the designs absolutely right.

The solution

When we did the design for the inside of the shop, we had to make sure we incorporated fire exits into the design - particularly in the basement. We called in building regulations and studied the plans to make sure we were absolutely watertight with health and safety. We put in access points, and made the whole thing wheelchair-friendly.

Because we also did haircuts and wet shaves with a barber, we had to get special insurance - when you're using a cut-throat razor, there's always a risk you could just set up and start working like Sweeney Todd, so the council requires a license and insurance just in case something does happen.  
We also had to get public liability insurance, just in case, if a member of the public or your staff trips up and breaks their neck and sues you, you are covered.

The lesson

Because we wanted to make the shop such an aesthetic experience for our customers, we had to deal with the fact taking certain health and safety precautions could ruin the aesthetic effect of the shop - but once you understand that, taking the necessary measures and making sure everyone who works in and visits the shop is safe is just part and parcel of running a business.

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